Eastern Star Members Support Cancer Treatment Innovations at Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute

Behind the latest advances in treatment at Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute are the donors who make it all possible. 

The women of the Montana Grand Chapter of Eastern Star have quietly become significant supporters of the institute and its efforts.

Over the last eight years, Montana’s Eastern Star members have contributed more than $38,000. The group had been sending money to a national organization, but members wanted to see the money stay in the state. The wife of a patient attested to the high quality of care at Benefis, and the organization directed its fundraising toward the institute.

When a dear friend announced plans to stay in Gift of Life Housing during her cancer treatment, Carol Zehntner of White Sulphur Springs, Mont., and others couldn’t believe the free lodging next to the cancer institute was really a possibility. They helped their friend move into her room.

“When I saw the afghan there, my heart melted,” Carol said. “It feels like home. It made her last days wonderful.”

Carol, grand secretary of the Montana chapter, said she had no trouble persuading Eastern Star members that Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute was a good place for their money to go. The group also helped finance a telemedicine connection between Benefis Health System and the Mountainview Medical Center in White Sulphur Springs.

“We have great feelings about Benefis,” Carol said.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has put a snag into fundraising efforts, members of the 39 chapters in the state are looking for creative ways to keep the momentum. Among their projects are virtual bake sales, with no actual baked goods exchanged.

Elaine Robinson, worthy grand matron for Montana, lost her mother to cancer. The Superior, Mont., woman is doing an afghan raffle to help raise money for cancer and heart research. 

“I’m sure if you talk with all our members, everyone has been touched by the heartache of someone they love having cancer,” she said. “It’s an issue we need to not be complacent with. It’s still a terrible disease. People are still being diagnosed with cancer.” 

The cozy afghan seems appropriate for a fundraiser for people in need of comfort, Elaine said.

Benefis Foundation Chief Operating Officer Marilyn Parker said Eastern Star members’ donations help people during times that try their spirits. The money also helps advance treatment options.
“We are so grateful to the Montana Chapter of Eastern Star for these donations over the years, which make life a little easier for patients during the stress and physical strain of cancer treatment,” she said. “These women have been a steady and important source of support for Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute.”